OTR Interviews

No more 'Jeff Neelys' wanted: The quest to prevent future GSA scandals

House Transportation Committee chairman reveals plan to root out and fire GSA officials who have a penchant for a life of luxury and waste on taxpayers' dime


This is a rush transcript from "On the Record," May 25, 2012. This copy may not be in its final form and may be updated.

SHANNON BREAM, FOX NEWS GUEST HOST: First, he's out! The man behind the lavish GSA conference in Las Vegas is no longer with the agency.

Good evening. I'm Shannon Bream, in tonight for Greta Van Susteren.

Regional commissioner Jeff Neely organized the now infamous GSA convention that cost taxpayers -- cost you -- more than $800,000. Now he's finally off the taxpayers' tab -- well, sort of. As a former government worker, Neely's still likely to receive an annual pension of more than $100,000. Seems to be no end to the waste of your tax dollars.

But now Congressman John Mica says he has an idea to stop any future Jeff Neelys from cashing in. Congressman Mica joins us tonight. Sir, thanks for your time.

REP. JOHN MICA, R-FLA.: Good to be with you.

BREAM: All right, are you happy to see that Jeff Neely is gone? Do you think it should happened sooner? Do you think others should leave the GSA as a result of what happened?

MICA: Well, when Jeff Neely refused to testify before our committee, and the day before, he took the 5th Amendment, I thought he should be dismissed immediately without pay.

This is not, you know, some low-level civil servant that has civil service protection. This is a senior executive service administrative official, who -- who, you know, just has a horrible record of waste and abuse of taxpayer dollars.

And he's been paid up until this week, and now it looks like some kind of a retirement deal has been struck. We're going to look at the terms of his so-called deal and why he was paid, and then, if this -- this is allowed, we need to stop it in the future.

BREAM: And we know that you're working on some legislation to that end. Can you tell us what it would do in a situation to make a difference?

MICA: Well, first of all, again, if a senior executive service high- level administration official comes before Congress and refuses to testify, takes the 5th and then refuses to cooperate -- you know, they take an oath. These are, again, high-level officials. And then they're paid and then, you know, they slip out by cutting a deal on their retirement. That shouldn't be allowed.

You know, taxpayers, no pun intended, already took a bath with this guy. And he should be held accountable. Also, I think we're going to pursue making certain that he pays back every dollar of spending. He needs to be held accountable in a number of ways.

And then why did GSA continue to pay him until this week? I asked for immediate suspension of his pay. It's like another vacation for this guy. And he went on, what, 17 of them at taxpayers' expense.

BREAM: I want to ask you about a bigger problem because I know it's something that you all have been working on on Capitol Hill, the fact that a number of federal agencies do not have permanent inspector generals right now. There are some where there are acting inspector generals, but in a lot of cases, the person who would be watching over these agencies, that position is empty. For some of them, it has been years, including the State Department.

MICA: Well, it's made it very difficult. You know, we took over the House and we've had to deal with all the czars that have been put in these agencies that are not accountable to Congress. And they're really running the show behind the scenes.

Now the little game that's being played -- and we just held a hearing on this -- is they're not appointing the inspector generals. Well, I can only do so much with my investigative staff. We rely on inspector generals to do the real digging of the dirt.

Remember, this is how we got Jeff Neely. But it was on the second time, a whistleblower came forward, and the White House swept us through the rug, back last year in June, when they learned of his first misdeeds.

Even when you have an inspector general in place, it's difficult. Imagine them stonewalling us with the appointment of putting more of these officials in place that are our safeguard.

BREAM: Do you think there will be bipartisan cooperation on the legislation you're proposing? I mean, folks say this isn't a party problem. This is something that affects every single American who pays taxes.

MICA: This isn't a Republican or a Democrat issue. And heaven knows, we -- during some of the Republican administration, we've had people who've abused public trust.

But we need to put safeguards into place -- in place to protect the public interest. Again, this is a very high-level placed official. We can't have this happen. They've got to be gone immediately.

And then, we also need to look at recouping the losses. When people run off with taxpayers' money, they need to be held accountable. And finally, you know, on retirement, now the guy's going to get I heard far in excess of $100,000. So he'll probably collect millions in retirement.

And we don't know what kind of a deal GSA, you know, concocted to get the guy out this past week. We've got to make certain the protection is with the taxpayer, and not these people running off with the public treasury.

BREAM: Well, that sounds like something that both sides of the aisle can support. Congressman John Mica...

MICA: Absolutely.

BREAM: ... thank you for your time tonight, sir.

MICA: Thank you. Good to be with you.